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Lambda Variant of COVID-19: How Effective Are Vaccines Against It?

Lambda Variant of COVID-19: How Effective Are Vaccines Against It?

The lambda variant of COVID-19 recently made headlines because of how quickly it spread through South America. And with all of the COVID-19 variants popping up, are the current vaccines still effective?

Read on to learn more about the lambda variant, vaccines, and what you can do in order to keep you and your family safe.

What is the Lambda Variant of COVID-19?

The lambda variant was first found in Peru, and has quickly spread throughout neighboring countries in South America. Aside from being more infectious, one of the more concerning characteristics of this variant is that it is more resistant to the available vaccines1.

According to studies conducted on this variant, the spike proteins, which it uses to latch on to cells, have undergone mutation. The antibodies induced by available vaccines work by attacking these spike proteins. But since the mutation, they have developed a resistance to these antibodies.

While it has yet to be determined if the lambda variant is a significant concern, it’s important to not dismiss the possibility of more serious outbreaks in the future.

Why Do Viruses Develop Variants?

One common question about COVID-19 variants is why do they happen in the first place.

It is actually normal for viruses to change over time. For the most part, these changes aren’t drastic and don’t significantly alter the virus. This means that people who already have immunity, either through vaccinations or being infected, can still be immune against some variants.

However, it’s possible that the virus goes through enough changes for it to be resistant to antibodies. This can be a problem because a mutated virus can potentially infect persons who have immunity. This affects herd immunity and can potentially lead to future outbreaks2.

Are Vaccines Useless Against the Lambda Variant of COVID?

While it’s true that the lambda variant of COVID-19 does have resistance to vaccines, this doesn’t mean that vaccines are completely useless. Vaccines still protect people against other variants, and studies have proven that they help lower the risk of severe COVID, even with the lambda variant.

So it is very important for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines are one of the best weapons that we have in the fight against COVID-19.

One common question that people have is with regard to a third dose. In the case of Sinovac, researchers have found that a third dose extends a person’s immunity. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that their antibodies are “stronger” against variants.

A third dose only increases the amount of antibodies already present in the body. It won’t make them stronger, or more effective against new variants.

What Can We Do About It?

The pandemic is still ongoing, so whether you’re vaccinated or not, it’s still important to practice safety protocol. By doubling up on protection, you can ensure that you and your family are protected from illness and disease.

Now that the DOH has already reported Philippines’ first Lambda variant case, here are some important things to remember:

  • As much as possible, avoid going outside and stay at home if you can.
  • If you do have to go out, be sure to wear a face mask, avoid touching any surfaces, and disinfect your hands often.
  • It’s also important to avoid crowds as well as enclosed spaces since this increases the risk of infection.
  • Practice social distancing, and avoid visiting friends or family in their homes.
  • Wash your hands often. This helps kill off any viruses on your hands and lowers the risk of infection.
  • Disinfect your home often. Wipe down surfaces, especially those that have been touched by other people.
  • If you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Learn more about Coronavirus here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
  1. Delta infections among vaccinated likely contagious; Lambda variant shows vaccine resistance in lab | Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/delta-infections-among-vaccinated-likely-contagious-lambda-variant-shows-vaccine-2021-08-02/, Accessed August 4, 2021
  2. Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants, https://www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/, Accessed August 4, 2021
  3. The Lambda Variant Of The Coronavirus: What You Should Know : Coronavirus Updates : NPR, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/07/22/1019293200/the-lambda-variant-coronavirus-what-you-should-know, Accessed August 4, 2021
  4. SARS-CoV-2 Lambda Variant: The New Kid on the Block – GVN, https://gvn.org/sars-cov-2-lambda-variant-the-new-kid-on-the-block/, Accessed August 4, 2021
  5. SARS-CoV-2 Variant Classifications and Definitions, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant-info.html, Accessed August 4, 2021
  6. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern as of 6 September 2021, https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/variants-concern, Accessed September 9, 2021
  7. https://doh.gov.ph/press-release/DOH-UP-PGC-AND-UP-NIH-CONFIRM-ADDITIONAL-COVID-19-VARIANT-CASES-INCLUDING-FIRST-CASE-OF-LAMBDA-VARIANT, September 9, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Apr 21
Medically reviewed by Michael Henry Wanat